Desiree Serrano is Senior Counsel in Lozano Smith's Los Angeles office. Her practice focuses on the student, labor & employment and government relations aspects of education law. Ms. Serrano has extensive experience as general legal counsel for school districts. She presents trainings on a number of topics to school employees such as sexual harassment, discipline, cyberbullying, student searches, transgender student rights, contract drafting, Brown Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
She provides legal advice to administrators on personnel matters such as discipline, layoffs, discrimination complaints, disability accommodations, and leaves, in addition to preparing responses to DFEH and EEOC complaints and negotiating settlement agreements. She also has substantial experience with student issues including records, discipline, searches and constitutional issues.
While in Law School, Ms. Serrano worked as a Law Clerk for San Diego Unified School District, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Children's Law Center of Los Angeles. She was also a Mediation Intern for the National Conflict Resolution Center and a Land Use Intern for the City of San Diego.
Ms. Serrano is a member of the California Bar and involved with the California Council of School Attorneys.
Ms. Serrano received her Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society, and minored in Education and Applied Psychology, from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Local educational agencies (LEAs) that participate in the national school lunch and school breakfast programs must update their school wellness policies to include new requirements for the 2017-18 school year. The requirements were included in regulations finalized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service in 2016.
LEAs that participate in federal breakfast and lunch programs are required to create school wellness policies that describe...
In 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 375 (see 2015 Client News Brief No. 56), which allowed certificated school district employees to use differential leave for up to 12 weeks when they take baby bonding leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), effective January 1, 2016.
On September 30, 2016, the Governor signed AB 2393, which extends the rights afforded under AB 375 to classified employees of school and community college districts...
On May 23, 2016, the United States Department of Labor published updated overtime regulations that increase the minimum salary amount necessary for employees to be exempt from overtime pay requirements. The updated regulations (Final Rule) will take effect on December 1, 2016.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1983 (FLSA) requires an employer to pay an employee at an overtime rate if the employee works more than 40 hours in one week. Employees can be exempt from th...
The 2015-16 school year marks the first time that public elementary and secondary schools that offer "competitive athletics" must post data about the gender makeup of their teams and their student participation. Charter schools must also comply.
By June 30 of each school year starting in 2016, each school must make the following information available on its website:
1) The total enrollment of the school, classified by gender;
2) The number of pupils enrolled at th...
Small school districts sometimes have difficulty finding people to fill all seats on a five member board. To address this issue, the California legislature recently passed Assembly Bill (AB) 331, providing county committees on school district organization (County Committees) the authority to decrease school district governing boards from five members to three members in districts with an average daily attendance (ADA) of less than 300 during the preceding year. Spe...
On July 13, 2015, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 304 into law, which clarifies the provisions of the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (Act), also known as AB 1522 or the "paid sick leave law." The Act expanded the right to paid sick leave to cover many more part-time employees in California. AB 304 clarifies portions of the Act and adds new options for compliance with the requirements of the Act. AB 304 was passed as an urgency measure an...
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a guidance package on April 24, 2015 discussing the obligation of school districts, colleges, and universities to designate a Title IX coordinator and providing guidelines for addressing sex discrimination in education programs and activities and meeting other Title IX requirements.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all educati...
If a permanent certificated employee resigns from a school district and is reemployed within 39 months by the same school district, the school district must restore the employee to permanent status. (Ed. Code § 44931.) If the district hires the former employee as a substitute teacher, is it required to designate the teacher as permanent?
In Edwards v. Lake Elsinore Unified School District (October 30, 2014) __ Cal.App.4th __ 2014 WL 5474984, the court confi...
A federal appeals court has held that a California school district violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) by failing to provide equal athletic opportunities for female athletes and retaliating against the female athletes by firing the softball coach, among other actions. This case is significant because it provides specific guidance on a school district's obligation to provide equal athletic opportunities under Title IX.
In Ollier v. Swe...
For several decades, California law has provided teachers with significant due process protections that, as a practical matter, have insulated them from suspension or dismissal except in rare cases. Many now contend that the current teacher dismissal process is cumbersome, expensive, and makes it difficult to dismiss teachers that should not be in the classroom. Assembly Bill (AB) 215 was recently passed and signed into law in an attempt to reform the teacher dism...